Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s)
Energy consumption in our homes accounts for some 30% of the CO2 emissions in the UK. Heating uses 90% of energy in the home and so improving energy efficiency of our homes not only saves money but also reduces this harmful emission. Directive 2002/91/EC on the Energy Performance of Buildings ensure that building standards across Europe place a high emphasis on minimizing energy consumption.
The Directive requires that when a building is constructed, sold or rented out, an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) must be made available to the owner or by the owner to prospective purchasers or tenants.
For rental properties it will be mandatory to have an EPC for any property being marketed for rent from 1st October 2008.
The EPC is simple to understand, based upon familiar labeling, making use of the A-G label for appliances and cars that we have all become used to. The EPC however will also indicate projected improvements in addition to the current band and rating of the house, including details and the impact of each energy efficient option.
Tenancy Deposit Schemes (TDS)
From 6 April 2007, all deposits taken by landlords for Assured Shorthold Tenancies in England and Wales (the majority of tenancies), must be protected by a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.
Landlords will have to participate in either a ‘custodial’ or ‘insured’ scheme and provide tenants with the contact details.
In the custodial scheme the tenant pays the deposit to the landlord who within 14 days must pass this on to the scheme. Also within 14 days the landlord must give the tenant the prescribed information (to be set out in secondary legislation) about the scheme being used.
At the end of the tenancy, if the landlord and tenant agree how the deposit should be divided, they will tell the scheme what they have agreed and the money will be paid out accordingly.
Should there be a dispute over the deposit, the scheme will hold the amount until the dispute resolution service or courts decide what is fair.
Interest accruing on deposits in the scheme will be used to pay for its running and any surplus will used to offer interest to the tenant, or to the landlord if the tenant is not entitled to repayment of the deposit.
The Insurances Scheme
In the insurances scheme the tenant pays the deposit to the landlord who retains this amount. However, the landlord must pay a premium to the insurer.
Again the landlord will be required to provide the tenant with prescribed information about the scheme within 14 days of taking the deposit.
At the end of the tenancy, if the landlord and tenant agree how the deposit should be divided, the landlord returns all or some of the deposit. Should there be a dispute the landlord must hand over the disputed amount to the scheme for safekeeping until the dispute is resolved.
If for any reason the landlord fails to comply, the insurance arrangements will ensure the return of the deposit to the tenant if they are entitled to it.
Both custodial and insured schemes feature alternative dispute procedures that can be called on to settle disputes.
At the end of the tenancy, should there be a disagreement between the landlord and tenant, then details of the dispute, along with the deposit money that cannot be settled, will be sent to the Independent Case Examiner for the Scheme. This will then be subject to independent third party adjudication, who will then apportion the deposit money.
They will make their decisions based on standard and detailed tenancy documentation. Inventories and check out reports are vital to this process as without them there will simply be no case to answer. The tenant will undoubtedly receive his full deposit back and the landlord could be seriously out of pocket in terms of compensation costs. So detailed inventories are vitally important.
Independently supplied inventories will undoubtedly carry the greatest weight.